What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia refers to any disorder in the swallowing process that does not allow food or fluid to pass safely from the mouth to the stomach. It is a common condition in many patient types and has various causes related to physical or mental disorders.
How does it happen?
The mouth and tongue play a vital role in the swallowing process. If the muscles in the mouth or tongue become weaker or uncoordinated, there is a risk that food or drink that is swallowed may end up in the lungs rather than the stomach. This can have serious health consequences.
Dysphagia can be classified into 4 categories, listed from most to least common :
- Oropharyngeal : patients having difficulties with the passage of food bolus from oral cavity to cervical oesophagus
- Oesophageal : impairment in the passage of solid/liquid food through the oesophagus
- Oesophagogastric : impairment in the passage of food from the oesophagus to the stomach due to motor or physical obstruction.
- Paraoesophageal: physical impingement on, or infiltration of the oesophageal wall leading to obstruction
Dysphagia is generally a sign of underlying diseases that can be associated with varied diagnoses. Neurological disorders, cancer and age-related physiologic changes are the major primary diagnosis associated with swallowing difficulties.
Figure : Worldwide dysphagia prevalence [4,5,6,7,8]
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